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Customer Service

6 Tips for Creating a Truly Great Customer Experience

What does a truly great customer experience look like? We spend a lot of time thinking about this at Zingerman’s. In fact, we actively measure the customer experience  by way of the Zingerman’s Experience Indicator (ZXI), which is our adaptation of the more commonly known Net Promoter Score. As Ari explains in this article, “the ZXI has provided a measurement tool to help us track and stay more focused on how well we raise every customer’s experience to a level of greatness. Briefly, the measure tracks customer response to the one ultimate question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, (10 being high), would you recommend Zingerman’s to a friend?” Nines and 10’s are considered promoters, 7’s and 8’s are neutrals, and anyone who scores 6 or below is deemed a detractor.”

How do we deliver the kind of customer service that consistently earns a high ZXI score aka the 9’s and 10’s, turning customers into promoters? And how do we get those promoters to share their love for us with the world?  

serviceWe have a few strategies for accomplishing this in each and every customer interaction in order to (hopefully!) create loyal fans that we use and teach throughout the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, both through Orientation Classes and on-the-job training.

The following might seem obvious to the leveled-up service provider, but here are a few of our favorite tips and our hope is that you can easily adapt them in YOUR business right away:

Tip #1 
Start the interaction with a tone that’s appropriate to the guest.

Never underestimate the importance of a good greeting! We believe in the importance of GiGG or “Get it Going Good.” One way to do that is to start with a tone that’s appropriate to the guest. Use your senses to read their energy  – what do you feel? Hear? See? Use your observations match your tone with their energy. If a guest is happy and excited, a jovial tone could work well. If, however, the guest is upset that your product/service didn’t meet their expectations, a sincere and concerned tone might be better suited to the interaction.

Tip #2
Share a Vision of a great experience early on.

We write visions for almost everything here at Zingerman’s, and a great customer experience is no exception! Set expectations with the customer early on about what they can expect from the interaction – what will the process of working with you look like? What does success for everyone look like in the end? Everyone appreciates knowing what to expect, right? Chances are your customer will leave a happier camper if they aren’t met with any surprises!

Tip #3
Make personal compliments and connections!

we_live_it_pg_8_255U.preview-409356-editedWhen it comes down to it, you and the guest are both human beings, after all, with lots of life experience under your belt. Use the interaction with the customer as an opportunity to create a shared experience – are there commonalities you share that you can build on to build a connection? Are they buying for a special occasion? Do you love their shoes? Do you have any connection to the place they’re they calling from? Regardless of what you notice, be sure that both compliments and connections being made are genuine – no one wants to feel like they’re being kissed up to.

Tip #4
Let the guests know of any secret specials you offer.

Is there an “ace up your sleeve” that you or your staff can offer your customer? After all, who doesn’t like feeling like they’re an insider and being let it on a secret? For example, is there a bonus product or service you can offer your guest as an extra mile? Are you going to be running a promotion that you can give a customer early-access to?  The list of extra miles are endless and only bound by your imagination (and, potentially, your budget!).

Tip #5
ABCD – Always Be Collecting, Communicating  and Connecting the Dots.

As an organization of 700+ people, it’s important that we communicate often (and well!) in order to give the best service possible to our guests. We use our new-hire Orientation and Onboarding period as a time to communicate details about our “regulars” so everyone is well equipped to give them the great service they’re used to receiving. We also use the ABCD method every time we answer the phone. After greeting the customer and if it’s apparent we need to transfer them to a colleague, we make it a point to get as much information as possible from them before handing them off to a colleague. We want to ensure that our colleague has as much detail as possible, i.e. we’ve “connected the dots” for them so that when they pick up the thread on the conversation, the customer has a seamless experience and doesn’t have to repeat themselves. This sets everyone up for success!

Make a sweet send off.

They say that parting can be such sweet sorrow, but with a sweet send off, chances are this won’t be the last interaction you’ll have with this customer! If you felt the love, then share it – let them know how much you enjoyed helping them. And if you want to make it extra sweet, send them a literal “sweet treat” – anything that could satisfy a sweet tooth would work well. Finishing the interaction on a high note can make the customer more likely to look back fondly on the interaction, not to mention, share that love with all of their friends!


Using any one of these tips on their own can help create a great customer experience. And if you’re feeling especially adventurous, try using a few of them in your next customer interaction! Any cost, financial or otherwise, associated with putting these tips into place will quickly pay off when you notice that customers keep coming back and begin bringing their friends with them!

We’d love to hear from you: How do you create a great customer experience in YOUR business?